Pacemen sort of sorted, but questions still to be answered

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December 6, 2011 by dixwah

Australia (427 & 1/19) defeated New Zealand (295 &150) by nine wickets

Another Test, another extraordinary fast bowling performance from a debutant fast bowler, and another very weak performance by New Zealand.

For two and a half days, the Black Caps had scrapped and countered their way back into some sort of contention, before the expected capitulation gave Australia a victory that possibly glosses over a few cracks that remain with the make-up of the side.

After missed opportunities saw Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin push Australia to a first-innings lead of 132, James Pattinson crashed through the New Zealand order, taking the first five wickets in an extraordinary four over burst that saw the Black Caps reeling at 5/28,  a position too perilous even for Dan Vettori to salvage.

James Pattinson completely rissoled New Zealand on day four at the Gabba

Pattinson is the real deal. Combine him with Pat Cummins, and we have a duo of strike bowlers that can lead the Australian attack for the forseeable future.

The third-seamer spot doesn’t seem such a connundrum now as it did at the start of the Sri Lankan series. While a fit Ryan Harris walks into the starting line-up, the fact that he’s rarely fit leaves the door ajar. Pete Siddle bowled with good pace in Brisbane (match figures 3/101) and could be most suited to a third-seamer spot in Harris’ absence, but (don’t come at me with the NSW bias rubbish again) Trent Copeland could be the perfect foil for the two firebrands.

Combine Copeland with Watson, and you have two stock bowlers allowing short furious bursts for the firebrands. It might just work.

Next, and Nathan Lyon has sealed his position in the medium-term, bowling well to take seven wickets at the Gabba. He’s a clever bowler, but with only six of his 19 Test wickets to date being recognised batsmen, the litmus test awaits with the Indians on our doorstep.

The elephant in the room is Phillip Hughes. The second innings dismissal was ugly. Small total, copped a brute from Chris Martin and was dropped, and then played a shocker to be out next ball. Michael Clarke and Shane Watson faced similar scrutiny early in their careers. Only runs can silence the knockers.

Regardless of what a one-week schoolboy coach looking for notoriety says in today’s paper (Steve Thomlinson, hang your head in shame whoever you are  http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/curious-case-of-phil-hughes-one-for-master-coach-to-reverse-trend-20111205-1ofi6.html), Hughes is not the batsmen who should be under the microscope.

The opposite end of the spectrum is Ricky Ponting, who with two fifties in his last two innings has enticed media speculation that he’s back to his best.

Ponting hasn’t scored a century in 29 Test digs, and only one ton in his last 46 digs. If only Hughes was afforded the same amount of time.

It’s the first landmark decision for the selectors. Both Ponting and Hughes avergae 30 in 2011. When Marsh or Watson returns, who goes. The soon-to-be 37 year-old great of the past, or the technically awkward 23 year-old player of the future.

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